Rwinkwavu, a community of 30,000 people in Rwanda, is significantly economically disadvantaged. The town is mostly made up of farmers and lacks basic modern resources such as running water and power.
Despite these conditions, the non-profit Ready for Reading built a town library in 2012 that Worldreader, a Barcelona-based charity, then filled with e-readers, smartphones, Wi-Fi and a broad range of digital books for locals to explore.
Books not only provide entertainment, but their educational value is paramount. This access to knowledge helps to improve language skills and literacy while explaining new and different information in an enjoyable way. More specifically, reading has helped adults in Rwinkwavu master various skills including applying for new jobs, opening bank accounts and even running their own businesses.
Accessing knowledge through reading has also helped children develop interests in topics they most likely would not have explored otherwise. Each night, people of all ages now gather at Rwinkwavu’s town library to read after long days of laboring in their fields. As they continue to learn new information, new doors continue to open for them.
More than one in three adults in sub-Saharan Africa, a total of 182 million, are unable to read and write. In Rwanda, 48 million of the youths are illiterate. The population’s lack of education has led to 44 percent of people living below the international poverty line of $1.25 per day. However, new town libraries like the one in Rwinkwavu could potentially change the status quo.
Worldreader has already used its digital books to fill multiple schools and libraries across 14 different countries in sub-Saharan Africa, helping to educate over 100,000 children and adults. The charity hopes to continue its expansion, with plans to fill another two libraries by the end of the year.
“There is massive inequality in the world. Africa needs education at scale to start closing the gaps,” said Worldreader Co-Founder Colin McElwee.
– Alice Gottesman